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Hochul orders ‘top-down’ review of New York marijuana licensing process



New York State has launched a comprehensive review of its sluggish process for licensing cannabis shops, Gov. Hochul’s office said Monday, targeting a tortured legalization rollout that has allowed a sprawling market of unlicensed retailers to emerge across the city. 

The governor tapped Jeanette Moy, the commissioner of the state Office of General Services, to conduct the analysis. In a statement, Hochul’s office said Moy would embed with the Office of Cannabis Management for at least a month and carry out a “top-down review” focused on hastening permitting.

The state began to issue its first retail marijuana licenses in 2022. A complex process for approving permits for sellers has limited the rollout. As of this winter, the city had fewer than 40 legal cannabis retailers, according to the much-maligned Office of Cannabis Management.

At the same time, an estimated 2,500 illicit pot shops have cropped up across the five boroughs, according to Mayor Adams’ office.

The unlicensed joints appear to be challenging the legal stores’ ability to take off, and many of the illicit pot shops target kids, according to officials.

The mayor’s office estimates there are 2,500 illicit cannabis shops in the city. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The rollout of some licensed shops has been delayed by legal battles. And the state’s permitting process was initially slowed by bureaucratic red tape.

Hochul, who has presided over the bumpy legalization rollout, has acknowledged that the process has been disastrous.

She has moved to grant broader power to city authorities to weed out the illicit shops. And on Monday, she turned her focus to the permitting process.

“Today, we take the first step in revamping New York’s legal cannabis industry to ensure its long-term success,” Hochul said in a statement, expressing confidence in Moy’s ability to “jumpstart the next phase of New York’s legal cannabis market.”

Moy has served as the commissioner of the state General Services Office since 2021. In a statement, she said she looked forward to working with the leadership in the Cannabis Management Office, and to finding “ways to streamline the application process and get businesses open.”

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